Thursday 13 April 2017

An Interview with Kolos Hegyi from Stereochrist and Magma Rise

There was Mood in the beginning. The first and probably only Hungarian doom band at that moment. Dudes gathered in 1993 and played till broke up in 2001 with four full-length albums in their discography. It’s obvious that five professional musicians (they had two guitarists back then) couldn’t just disappear and from the ashes of 1 band two new arose – traditional one under the name Wall of Sleep and more savage outfit with hard southern approach Sterochrist.

Later two Wall of Sleep members found Magma Rise, so in the end we have three groovy bands playing slightly different styles of doom instead of one. Aren’t you tired of this arithmetic?

Okay, okay! Then here’s the interview with Kolos Hegyi, the man who plays guitars in both Sterochrist and Magma Rise. I needed to hear some news about both bands first-handed, so I ask him few questions about this and that…

Salute Kolos! How are you? What’s new in Stereochrist life? Haven’t heard anything from the band for ages!

Hi, I’m fine! The truth is, that although Stereochrist is still alive, it hasn’t been active lately. Sometimes we do one show, but everybody’s busy with their active bands. It’s quite interesting that last year we did one show on Budapest’s A38 ship, which was recorded and broadcasted on national TV as well in high quality. Hopefully we will get it soon and can publish in social media. It was a great show!

How did it happen that Stereochrist had got on TV?! What is this show about?

This channel runs a series of live shows on A38 boat. We were a part of this with our 10th anniversary of the release of ‘Live Like a Man’. It was just a normal show that they recorded with several cameras in HD. There was no modification on the recording later, so they really showed how we sounded like.

And the new album? Do you plan to record some new dirty tunes soon?

There’s no actual activity on the new album. All of us are busy with the other bands.

Kolos, you and Balázs are only constant members of Sterochrist original lineup since 2002, your vocalist Dávid Makó who left the band in 2009 returned 5 years later… Who’re people who run Sterochrist today?

The current line-up consists of Dávid Makó (Devil’s Trade, Haw) – Vocals, Gáspár Binder (Haw, Torn from Earth, Prosectura, Dog Attack) – Drums, László Herczeg (Magma Rise) – Guitars, and of course Balázs (Asphalt Horsemen) on bass and me (Magma Rise) on guitars.

The band was formed after split of classic Hungarian doom band Mood, which did split in two camps – Stereochrist and Wall of Sleep. How do you see principal differences between two bands?

After the split WoS moved into the direction of the classic, melodic doom, while Stereochrist approached it from the dirtier end. Our music was influenced mostly by the bands from New Orleans. By the way, in Magma Rise we are still following the doomy path of Mood, where our singer is the ex-member of WoS, Gábor Holdampf.

These bands were supported by PsycheDOOMelic Records, the label who did help a lot European scene in the times when doom was in its low point. How did you collaborate with Mark?

Márk (owner of PsycheDOOMelic Records) is also a Hungarian guy, a huge fan of Mood. Later he released Stereochrist as well, together with Metal Hammer. He is no longer in the business, currently living somewhere in south-America. I just ran into him on a Magma Rise concert in January and had a good talk.

Sterochrist – Live Like a Man (Die as a God)

By the way, how do you value achievements of Mood back in the days when it was active?

Times have changed and what we thought as a small audience and CD sales turned much less today. Such a pity that Mood have never played outside of Hungary. This could have been a good opportunity.

How would you describe main features of Sterochrist? What were your intentions when you work over the first album “Dead River Blues”?

Stereochrist is a riff-oriented, aggressive metal music with quite simple structures, sometimes with a touch of doom and southern influence. When we did ‘Dead River Blues’ we didn’t think of the style at all. These songs were born naturally without any hesitation. The 3 ex-members of Mood (Tamás Koltay, Balázs and me) did the music part, the singer, Péter Felföldi brought his unique vocals and lyrics. All finished songs appeared on the record.

The second album “Live Like a Man (Die as a God)” sounds a bit more brutal and heavy than “Dead River Blues”, you recorded it with new vocalist Dávid Makó and drummer Csaba Kludovácz. How did they influence on the band’s sound?

Obviously the new members influenced it. Dávid’s tonality and style was much more defined. And the band did 3-4 rehearsals per week, which made us solid and unified also in sound and in songwriting. During the recording phase we were trying to sound live as much as possible, so we recorded the whole album live at once in the rehearsal room with Barna Hidasi (the sound engineer, we are still working together with in Magma Rise and Asphalt Horsemen). The outcome was way better than the first record.

What’s about the lyrics? Did it change comparing the debut? What are your songs usually about?

Since we are talking about two different people with two different personality and mentality, lyrics are much different. While Peter is an introverted person, David is a real front man type. Lyrics were written by them, about their personal feelings.

As I guess you and Balázs are main songwriters in Stereochrist, did you feel the need to move further with the third album “III”? I’m meaning – you have a pretty effective formula of playing heavy low-tuned music, what else did you want to add to it?

We didn’t want to change directions on this album either, we just let the songs flow naturally. This album is more colourful as there are some thrash and some southern slow-down stuff as well. Péter Felföldi was on the vocals again, so there are more melodies.

How did “III” record session go?

III’ was written with the new drummer Gáspár Binder, who drums groovier, which also affected the music. The whole material became groovier. At the beginning David was still around but he didn’t bring any ideas. We also involved Károly Lőrincz (Asphalt Horsemen) at that time, but before the recording phase Peter Felföldi returned, so we recorded the album with him. The method was the same as on the first album: each instrument was recorded separately – the studio was not ready for simultaneous recording.

Can you pick up one song from each of Stereochrist albums which represents the best of the band on that period?

I can’t pick only one, there are 2-3 good examples of the band’s current status. All Along the River and Holosonic from the first; Ghosts of a Culture’s Pride, Ride Blind or Destroying Ruins from the second, Shallowman and The Long Hard Mile from the third (which is my personal favourite)

Do you remember technically most difficult album in Stereochrist discography?

Stereochrist’s music is not really difficult. The structures are logical, so you don’t need any special preparation for a show! One rehearsal before the show twice a year and we are ready to rumble!

I saw news that Magma Rise almost finished new full-length album, what can you tell about it? How will it differ from “The Man in the Maze”?

We haven’t recorded an album since Man In The Maze. We released an EP ‘False Flag Operation’ with 4 originals and 1 Trouble cover song, and last week we recorded couple of songs for a new EP including Black Sabbath’s ‘A National Acrobat’ where Karl Agell (C.O.C.; Leadfoot, King Hitter) will be on vocals. It’s almost a tradition to invite our favorite singers to cover a classic song.

When do you plan to release new EP? Do you already have schedule and the label?

Should be out by the end of the summer through a German label, Daredevil Records.

Kolos, you play doom since 1993. This genre isn’t most popular one and as I know Mood and Magma Rise didn’t get intensive feedback from listeners abroad. What make you play this music through all these years?

Honestly, playing music is rather a hobby. At the beginning I liked gigging the most, but now writing new material inspires me more. Obviously this is a love, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Practically family, work and music are the three pillars of my life.

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Kolos Hegyi